From 2016 to 2018, the percentage of voters describing Democratic candidates as “in the mainstream” fell from 48 percent to 33 percent. The percentage describing Democratic candidates as “out of step with most Americans’ thinking” rose from 42 percent to 56 percent.

Over the same period, the evaluation of Republican candidates remained virtually unchanged, 59 percent “out of step” in 2016 and 56 percent in 2018; 31 percent “in the mainstream” in 2016, 33 percent in 2018. In other words, over the past two years voters have become substantially more distrustful of the Democratic Party.

I asked political scientists who study political parties for their evaluation of the dual function of the Democratic Party. Their responses varied widely.

Ryan Enos, a political scientist at Harvard, wrote back to say that one “problem the party seems to have is that it can’t accommodate all social justice demands at once.”